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Indonesia's Filosofi Kopi—New Trajectories surrounding Film

Interview / 29th Tokyo International Film Festival

Coffee and Coffee Making: As a Culture, as a Passion

The Japan Foundation Asia Center (hereinafter AC) : We assume that it is rare for a film to be themed on coffee making in Indonesia. Angga, what made you decide to have coffee or coffeehouses as the motif of your film?

Angga Dwimas Sasongko (hereinafter Angga) : Well, my wife Anggia Kharisma, the producer of this film, and I are fans of Dewi Lestari's "Filosofi Kopi [The Coffee Philosophy]"*1 and the film is actually an adaptation of this short story. We picked the story because coffee culture in Indonesia is growing rapidly recently, and, as producers, we thought it would be interesting to explore it as the film's motif. But it was also a marketing strategy.
Through my research on coffee for writing the script, I realized that coffee farmers, baristas, and filmmakers share the same passion: we love what we do. That revelation really spoke to me and I was convinced that we can make this film not just because we are Lestari fans, but because we found the story itself very intriguing as filmmakers.

*1 Dewi Lestari, “Filosofi Kopi [The Coffee Philosophy]” in Filosofi Kopi: Kumpulan Cerita Dan Prosa Satu Dekade [Coffee Philosophy: A Decade Worth of Stories and Prose], (Bandung: Truedee Books & Gagas Media, 2006), 1–30.

A photo of Angga during interview

From a Coffee Shop on Set, to a Real-life Filosofi Kopi

AC : We also understand that the set of the coffeehouse is now an actual a café, owned and run by Rio and Chicco. How did this happen?

Angga : At the time of writing the script, I already knew that I cannot shoot Filosofi Kopi in a rented space or an existing coffee shop. We had to create our own because I had already imagined many of the specifics of the space: where the bar is, where Jody's small office would be, and so on. So, from the beginning, I knew we had to build it from scratch.
Then, while shooting the film, the three of us thought, "Why don't we run the coffee shop?" because we had already leased the space for two years; you see, we couldn't find anywhere to lease for a shorter period like three or six months. On top of that, we bought all the equipment because, again, we couldn't rent them. So we ended up opening it as a coffee shop.

A photo of a scene from the movie
(c)Vsinema Pictures / ココロヲ・動かす・映画社

Filosofi Kopi as a Brand and Multi-Media Outlet

Rio Dewanto (hereinafter Rio) : Business-wise, there was potential too because Indonesia, as we know, is one of the best coffee producers in the world. Making a living in the film industry in Indonesia is quite tough, so we thought why not connect the two, the film and the actual business. Why not take advantage of "merchandizing" the film.

Angga : We also wanted to have Filosofi Kopi not just as a movie but also a brand in itself. That's why we also have an online store. We've already opened two coffee shops and are getting ready to open the third one. By the end of 2017, we hope to expand Filosofi Kopi outside of Jakarta and have ten more stores all over Indonesia.

Rio : Maybe we can open one in Japan too [smiles].

Angga : Next month (interview held in November, 2016), we will be shooting the sequel, Filosofi Kopi 2: Ben and Jody (Indonesian only).*2 We're also thinking of creating a radio drama, comics, and a web series (Indonesian only), expanding Filosofi Kopi in many forms of media.

*2 The Indonesian premiere of Filosofi Kopi 2: Ben & Jody is planned to be held on July 13, 2017.